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How Phoenix-Area Food and Drink Businesses Are Showing Solidarity

You know Local First Arizona is showing its support.
You know Local First Arizona is showing its support.
Local First Arizona

Restaurants, bars, and food-related businesses across Arizona and metro Phoenix are showcasing their solidarity with downtown demonstrators and anti-racism movements in a variety of ways. Countless chefs, restaurant accounts, and food industry workers posted those solid black squares on social media for #blackouttuesday. Others have created resources highlighting black-owned restaurants. And others still are donating and directing proceeds to anti-racist organizations.

Local First Arizona has been busy creating resources for those looking to support black-owned businesses in Arizona. The landing page How to Support the Black Community With Your Dollars and Voice lists ways readers may take “actionable steps in support of black communities.”

A black-owned restaurant guide to the Phoenix area is also available, assembled by the Phoenix Black Collective. The one-sheet guide organizes eateries by city, and lists places like Cool Vybz Jamaican Restaurant, Charlie Mae’s Soul Food, and all locations of Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles and ATL Wings.

This guide appears to be updated annually from referral emails to phoenixblackcollective@gmail. A few listed restaurants are now closed, but a side note reads, “As this is a complimentary service, please be patient with updates to the list and responses to your email.”

LFA founder Kimber Lanning says that supporting and building a diverse Arizona economy isn't new messaging for the organization. It's always been their mission.

"As of April, the country has lost nearly 450,000 active black business owners," Lanning says in a statement to New Times. "We don't know what Arizona numbers look like, but we know to intervene to make sure we don't lose classics such as Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, Honey Bear's BBQ, and Cafe Lalibela and newer businesses putting Arizona on the map such as the Larder + the Delta and The Breadfruit."

The black-owned restaurant guide to the Phoenix area lists all locations of Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles and ATL Wings.EXPAND
The black-owned restaurant guide to the Phoenix area lists all locations of Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles and ATL Wings.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Other founders made similar efforts this week, including Upward Projects co-founder and CEO Lauren Bailey. On Tuesday, June 2, the Arizona-based business closed its 15 restaurants here and in Texas and Colorado. All locations of Postino WineCafe, Federal Pizza, Joyride Taco House, Windsor, and Churn were shuttered for the day.

“Intention without action is meaningless,” Bailey says in a press release. “While we will take some immediate action, we will also think critically and act swiftly to influence positive, sustained change around this shared issue moving forward.

Bailey says customers who were planning to spend money on Tuesday at an Upward Projects location could instead join the restaurant join in donating to a number of organizations, listing Campaign Zero, Equal Justice Initiative, Black Lives Matter, and Until Freedom, among others.

Wren House Brewing Company wrote on Facebook, “Our means of support will come from what we do best, brewing beer.” The 24th Street taproom and small brewery plans to brew a new beer starting this Friday, June 5, and donate 100 percent of the earnings to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The new beer will be fully overseen by brewer Akil Zakariya, and supported by the Detroit-based Brewz Brothaz beer group. Zakariya and Wren House owner Preston Thoeny say the beer does not have a name yet, but it will be a stout.

“A stout, which as many people know, is black in color,” Zakariya says. “We’re using all ingredients that are black and brown in color and in nature.” The ingredients for which will also be thoughtfully sourced, like vanilla beans from Madagascar, and cacao and coffee beans from other African countries.

Wren House Brewing Company is starting a new beer overseen by brewer Akil Zakariya. It will be ready in about a month, and all proceeds will go to the NAACP.EXPAND
Wren House Brewing Company is starting a new beer overseen by brewer Akil Zakariya. It will be ready in about a month, and all proceeds will go to the NAACP.
Lauren Cusimano

Zakariya says they'll be donating proceeds from the new beer to the NAACCP because of its reach. “It’s hard to give to one group, because we don’t just need it here in Phoenix, they don’t just need it in Detroit, it’s needed across the country,” he says. “NAACP is a national group that can better disperse funds.”

While Wren House is still closed to drink-in customers, Thoeny hopes in a month, when the brew is ready, people may then be able to try it inside the small taproom. If not, they will continue takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery.

In the meantime, Zakariya says he’s excited for the opportunity to create this new brew, especially as black people can be underrepresented in the craft beer industry. But it will be nice to see donations sent to organizations like the NAACP beyond this week, because, as Zakariya says, “This is a situation that is bigger than beer.”

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